After so many nail salons were put on a temporary shut down, so many of us nail techs were basically thrown into the brainstorm panic of “how the hell am I supposed to make money if I can’t do people’s nails right now?”And press-on nails  started to emerge like crazy from all of us nail techs all over the country. But just because we are all nail techs,  it didn’t mean this transition to press-ons didn’t come with it’s fair share of confusion, stress, and complications. 

If you don't know me yet, hi! My name is Katie Masters aka @nailthoughts on instagram. I am a nail tech who owns a private (and currently COVID closed) nail salon in Santa Monica, CA. I just dove right into making press ons, and for the last 6 months of me being shut down and locked out from the virus I have had a pretty decent amount of time to work some of the kinks out and I am here to help shed some of the lessons so you don't have to learn the hard way like I did!


This was literally me-

“So wait, I just have my clients glue it on themselves? But what about cuticle prep work? But I don’t know their finger sizes!!! Wait…how am I supposed to ship these things? What if they don’t work for people? What if they don’t do them RIGHT? What if they just fall off and they get mad at me?! MY REPUTATION IS GOING TO BE RUINED. I’VE NEVER DONE THIS BEFORE WHAT DO I DO?!”


 I had no clue what I was doing and just jumped in head first making so many mistakes so I wanted to write a little series of blogs to help explain how I am doing this, to hopefully help answer all of the most common q’s I’ve gotten from all of you trying to dive into this as well.  And hopefully help so many of you fellow nail techs that ~also~ feel a little alone and lost in this. THIS IS HARD TO DO, SO PLEASE BE PROUD OF YOURSELF. 


In this first press-on blog post, I want to cover the most popular question-


FIRST OPTION- Alright from what I’ve seen in the hand painted press-on world, most people are having clients send in their measurements. Here is a great video example from my friend Kia on how she is having her clients size their nails. 


Then once they have their nail  measurements, they send you, the nail tech, their numbers and you translate it to your nail tips! Paint all the custom designs they want, and send em off!



-You only have to do 10 nails, and you can rid yourself of the stress of worrying if the nails you sent fit them since you based it off of the measurements they sent you.

-It’s so much less work and way less materials used than if you sent a ton of sizes with designs to them.

-You can make sure and put art on the specific fingers they want and make it more custom like with accent fingers etc. 


-Someone WILL measure their nails wrong. I mean let me tell you, the other day my friend made me a ring and sent me a very similar link explaining how to measure my finger and I did it as confidently and carefully as possible, but when I got the ring, it was way bigger than my finger! I SWORE I was so careful (don’t worry, it fit a different finger, whew) but I STILL messed it up! Like how. Ugh. Anywho, so if any of your clients are like me, that will definitely happen. It truly isn’t the end of the world, but worst case is you have to have them measure that one finger again and redo that nail, or have them file it down if it’s larger than their nail,  OR have a policy in place that says basically “it’s not my responsibility if you measure nails wrong” and wipe your hands of it. Either way I’m sure it would break your heart if they got their set and it didn’t work out and then fixing of the situation could distract you from more sets you could be doing.

-Another con is that you might be overwhelmed with keeping track of people’s numbers if you get bombarded with inquiries and custom design asks. Be prepared to get organized! Get your copy paste measurement instructions on deck!

-It might be a little stressful getting back to people in a decent amount of time, WHILE you are working on a different set of nails as well. You’ll have your hands full if things get busy!

-If a nail comes off and they couldn't keep track of it and it gets lost, there are no extra nails for them to slap on! Once one nail gets lost, the reusable factor is pretty much over :(

-And finally, it's going to be so much harder to keep track of inventory with this way. If you are planning to do a bunch of sets, the most frustrating part is going to be running out of specific sizes before all of the rest and having to re order only specific refills, etc. etc. You might think you will be all set to take some more orders and then when you get their measurements realize you are a couple sizes short and have to stall on painting to reorder only certain sizes. Your inventory might be pretty scattered, and feeling disorganized/ not knowing what you might run out of can be stressful.


SECOND OPTION- Here is what I decided to do! I am sending each client/customer 22 nails of the design they ordered. Here are the sizes I am sending, KEEP IN MIND, I am using the Kokoist Gelip tips. So if you are using the Apres tips, note that the popular sizes might be slightly different than my popular sizes due to difference of brand.

Size 1 (two of them)

Size 2 (two of them)

Size 3 (two of them)

Size 4 (two of them)

Size 5 (two of them)

Size 6 (four of them)

Size 7 (four of them)

Size 8 (two of them)

Size 9 (two of them)

I stopped sending size zero’s and added more of the smaller popular sizes like 6 and 7! All they have to do is add to cart and I ship it! 


-You can do a set and literally forget about it. No more stress about what if things don’t fit, or wrong measurements. You have covered all bases. If one doesn’t fit, they have 21 extra possibilities . This is great for my fellow anxious tech’s that lose sleep worrying about every little thing like I do. 

-This way is amazing for doing designs in bulk. Just stock up on different shaped nail tips and do the same quick design over and over and over again and build up your inventory without waiting for anyone else! My next launch in a few days, I am on track to launching with 60 sets!

-People are more inclined to purchase! A ton of people really hate to do work when they buy something  (me included, I was literally already wiping my hands of getting that ring when she asked for my measurements because I was too lazy, I'M GLAD I DID IT THOUGH OKAY, THANK YOU JENNY).  We love convenience and sometimes if people have to work too hard for it, they might get turned off. I literally hate CALLING places to make an appointment because I just don’t want to talk to anyone and just want to just silently make appointments online or add to cart on my own time with no further conversation like a little introverted hermit. Think about people that go to Target and buy press ons, boom, done. Those press on boxes at these stores average between 22-24 nails! BUT there are also people who love to participate in the purchasing process as well! It all depends on your ideal client! But if you are looking to have quick, easy transactions for you and client, option 2 might for you. All they have to do is add to cart and I ship it. 

- I definitely recommend this way if you want a little more control! Here is what I mean, if you are stressed about people exploding your inboxes with numbers, all different types of custom design requests you might not be able to do, etc. then don’t open yourself up to that and just select a handful of your most popular designs and make those! Make a bunch of that same design in different shapes and lengths and put those up for grabs on your site, instagram, etc.! It relieves you of new clients messaging with designs you may not be the best at etc. and protects yourself from a huge overflow of stress. Personally I knew my inbox would explode and I would never be able to see the bottom. I am an absolute control freak which is why I chose to do this way. Boundaries!!! We are working on it and doing well!



-You really can’t do different accents on certain nails. Things get confusing when you want to try to give them an accent nail because if you think about it, if they want something different on their ring finger, how will you know which size to put it on without their measurements? You sorta have to stick with the same design on each finger. Doesn’t mean you can’t still get abstract with it though! I mean my rose quartz lines look different on every finger and go in all different angles, but they all still go well together as a set!

-Another con is obviously you are doing double the work AND more materials used. So I have been sticking with designs I know like the back of my hand and after just two nail launches, I have a whole system down and can whip out a rose quartz set of 22 nails in about 45 minutes! So I definitely recommend a design on the more simpler side if you are trying to make them in bulk like me!





Nail tips

The nail tips I am using are the Kokoist Gelip tips.  They are thin and very natural looking. Also anything you buy on the Kokoist website you can use my code NT10 to get 10% off.

When I did my first nail launch, I launched with all the different sizes ranging from oval short, to medium almond, to coffin long. The first thing I noticed was how fast all of the “short” sizes were gone. I put “short” in quotes because technically these tips are for extensions, so they are truly not short. The last one to sell was the long coffin. Then I asked my audience what shapes they like the most and I had an overwhelming response of “short!” “can you make shorter than the shortest size you have?” and “I need short so I can still type at work.” So my last two launches I decided to get rid of the longer sizes and only focus on oval short and almond short.  Which in the end makes my life so much easier because I don’t have to worry about building up stock in four other lengths on top of the two short ones I’m focusing on. Be sure to ask your audience what lengths and shapes they want and really focus there so you can be sure to bring them exactly what they want so they are ready to throw their money at you.


If you are going to go my route nail tip wise, here are some good tidbits of info:

-You are going to want to buy the boxes of the shapes and lengths you want. In each box you will get 30 pieces of each size which means each box is 15 sets. But remember! We do double the size 6 and 7. So make sure and buy one pack of the Refill Pack of both sizes 6 and 7 each in the shape you buy in ADDITION to each box you get. Each refill pack comes with 30 pieces which works out perfectly! 


You can find all of that HERE


Example- If I am restocking on 2 Oval Short boxes, My cart will look like this:

2 Oval Short Gelip boxes

2 Oval Short Refill pack size 6

2 Oval Short Refill pack size 7


You get 10% off of any Kokoist order if you use NT10 at check out, so with that discount each single nail tip in the box/ refill pack is worth $.08.

Multiply that by 22 nails and each set of nails using my way will cost you $1.76.

Multiply that by 10 nails by using the measurement way will cost you $.80.


It is all up to you! And I really hope this blog helps you even just a tad bit with navigating this whole press-on world. I definitely don’t know everything, but this is from my experience and I hope it sheds some light. Blah I really love you all so much. And honestly I'm in such awe of how so many of you were so amazingly graceful and quick to dive into a whole other business venture when you were shut down. We need to just take a moment and acknowledge how resilient we all are. I SEE YOU. 

I can’t wait to keep adding to this with more info about what I am learning with all of this, and I definitely recommend dipping your toes into it, especially if you are like me and ~still~ don’t have a date on when you can go back into your salon to work! Plus, truly we never know if this shut down will happen again during fall flu season this year as well, so let’s be prepared next time and be ready as ever to take on this new income stream.


If you have anymore questions feel free to reach out to me on IG or keep an eye out for more blogs to come. I can’t wait to show you all my new packaging…EEEEE!!!!!



Hello, thank you so much for being so open in sharing your experience and even the materials you used, you have been extremely helpful. I am in the process of still figuring out the sizing options I can provide, specially because I’m using 3 different brands of nails and they all happen to have slightly different measurements, so I thought how in the world can I even make a “template “ of measurements if they all vary! So stressed lol…
I created my own “collections” I did 10 nails for each, but I feel I made the “too extra” lol so just the fact to think making another 10, is going to take me for EVER plus as you mentioned more material will be used.
But I won’t give up, I am determined to figure this out! In a way that will work for me.
Blessings and thanks again for all the info, is a relief to know I am not the only one that gets frustrated. ;D


Thank you for this! I’ve been making sets since shutdown. Most sets are selling to general public. My clients have pretty natural nails and are just suffering for now. My question is for someone w/ a smaller IG following how would you market?

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